Peter Kafka

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Sean Parker Explains His Warner Music Bid

Sean Parker helped push the music industry into a decade-long slide. Now he says the slump is just about over.

Which is why Parker tried, unsuccessfully, to buy part of Warner Music Group this spring.

I walked through some of this when I wrote about Parker’s bid back in March, but now the billionaire investor/entrepreneur is talking about it in his own words, at the e-G8 conference in Paris. Via the FT:

I think that there is a pretty dramatic change in the way music is monetized that is on the cusp of happening. Back catalogues of record labels are going to become extremely valuable…If you believe this transformation is occurring, if you believe the broken distribution systems are on the verge of being fixed, those recordings are dramatically undervalued.

In the last 10 years we have presided over the greatest destruction in value in the history of the music industry…Assuming we can stabilize things and restore growth, it shouldn’t be that difficult to preside over the greatest increase in value in the history of the recorded music industry.

Just to spell this out: As a co-founder of Napster, Parker played a big role in the “greatest destruction in value in the history of the music industry.” So it’s even more interesting to see him call a bottom now.

That thinking also explains his interest in subscription music service Spotify, where he’s an investor and advisor. Apple’s iTunes dominates digital music today, but Parker argues that subscription services, which make it much easier to discover and listen to older songs, are creating a “dramatic paradigm shift” in consumption.

We’ve heard this pitch before, for quite some time: Subscription music services have been around for about as long as iTunes, but they’ve never taken off. Doesn’t mean they won’t one day, though.


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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus